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Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny goes on hunger strike in prison

Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny has announced a hunger strike to protest the conditions of his imprisonment in Penal Colony No. 2 (located in the city of Pokrov, in the Vladimir region). 

In an Instagram post uploaded on Wednesday, March 31, Navalny said that he’s resorting to a hunger strike because he’s being denied necessary medicines and being “tortured by sleep deprivation.” In his words, prison inmates “have no other methods of fighting.”

“I have the right to call a doctor and receive medicine. But they don’t give me either one. The back pain has spread to my leg. Areas of my right [leg] and now my left leg have lost feeling. All jokes aside, this is really a strain.”

Spokespeople for the Vladimir region’s branch of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) told Open Media that they were unaware of Navalny’s hunger strike.

Over the past week Navalny and his lawyers have reported that the opposition politician’s health has deteriorated significantly during his time in prison. Navalny has been experiencing back pain, and pain and numbness in his leg, and complained of being denied requested medical treatment. Navalny has also complained of “torture by insomnia” — due to the fact that he’s been deemed a “flight risk,” the prison staff wake him up for checks every hour throughout the night.

Prison officials have maintained that Navalny’s condition is “stable and satisfactory.” Members of the Vladimir region’s Public Monitoring Commission, which oversees the treatment of prisoners, visited Navalny in prison on March 27. According to them, the opposition politician complained of pain in his leg and asked for assistance obtaining injections of painkillers. “No other wishes were expressed,” the commission underscored.

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